You don’t need to smuggle cucumber slices into the bathroom to practice self-care at work. If you’re working 9 to 5 every day and missing peak hours of sunshine, it can benefit you to be intentional about your time under the fluorescent lights.
As we know, self-care is a lot more than face masks and bubble baths. I definitely don’t recommend getting sudsy in your office. I do recommend taking some time each day to do things that make you feel a little more human and a little less like a cog in the corporate machine.
These tips are geared toward those enduring cubicle life, but I hope you will find them useful regardless of your workspace.
Here are 5 Easy Ways to Practice Self-Care at Work
Set a Morning Intention
Take time to check in with yourself each morning before you get sucked into your to-do list. The few minutes you spend setting your intention can powerfully affect the way you move through the rest of your day.
Setting your intention for the day can be as simple asking yourself a few questions. Check in with how you’re feeling and your goals for the day. Try to avoid task-oriented goals, like finishing a project or turning in a brief. Consider goals such as: Who do I aspire to be today? What can I let go of? How can I express gratitude and honor myself today?
I like to write my intentions down. I peak at my intention notes a few times throughout the day as a reminder to stay present.
Setting an intention is all about being—you guessed it—intentional. Break the doldrum routine of working life and start paying attention to how you move and act throughout the day.
Do this each morning, whether you incorporate it in your morning routine, your commute, or your first few minutes at your desk. Mrs. Mindfulness has some excellent resources for cultivating this practice as a habit.
Listen to an Inspirational Playlist
If you have the luxury of working a job that allows you to wear headphones, give your ears a pep talk! I love creating playlists that make me feel like a boss or inspire me to bounce a little at my desk. You can get creative with your own personal jams or follow premade playlists like Spotify’s Girl Power.
Stretch It Out with Some Subtle Desk Yoga
Have you ever been sitting at your desk and realized you look like The Hunchback? Your back is rounded, and your shoulders are rolled forward. I usually find myself craning my neck towards my screen and squinting to see already magnified text.
I don’t have to tell you the dangers of bad posture. (Back pain, neck pain, trouble sleeping, added stress!) The way we hold ourselves is so important for our overall wellbeing. Try these subtle stretches and poses next time you get your hunch on.
I like to play a 2-3-minute meditation while I stretch. This gives me the opportunity to rest my eyes and truly reconnect with myself. Apps like Headspace and Simple Habit offer great (and brief) guided meditations. You can also bookmark free guided sessions on YouTube. When you sit at a desk all day, it’s important to care for both your physical and mental posture.
Prompt Your Breaks & Make the Most of Them
Experts say we work optimally in approximately 50-minute intervals punctuated by short breaks. If you have a full day, or even a few consecutive hours, of desk-sitting ahead of you, it’s important to take ample breaks.
Apps like Be Focused provide a gentle reminder to take time to step away from your computer. The timer allows you to schedule time for tasks followed by timed breaks. I like to set mine in patterns of 50-minute tasks with alternating 5 and 10-minute breaks.
I am also a big advocate of taking advantage of those corporate mandated 15-minute breaks. While it is important to take small amounts of time away from your screen to recharge, these longer breaks allow for crucial reset time.
Try to use your longer breaks to get out of the office. Take a walk outside, ask a coworker to accompany you to coffee, or call a loved one for a quick chat. Move your body and change up your scenery. If you can, try to stay off social media and give your eyes some much needed rest from pesky blue light.
Practice Afternoon Affirmations
It’s easy to get sluggish in the afternoons. Instead of reaching for another cup of caffeine, try reconnecting with your morning intention and practicing some affirmations. It’s important to choose an affirmation that resonates with you. Explore some of the affirmation we love affirmations we love, or try the ones I like to use when I’m at work:
- I am a badass boss woman.
- I am doing the best I can in this moment.
- Today is an opportunity for growth.
Don’t wait for the weekend to care for yourself. Make self-care at work a part of your daily routine. Because you deserve it.